Wed, May 18, 2016 - Page 4 News List

CDC reports increase in hepatitis A, urges care

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The number of reported acute hepatitis A cases this year is the highest in 18 years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said, adding that it is working to expend the government-funded free vaccine eligibility criteria.

As of May 15, 275 confirmed cases of hepatitis A had been reported nationwide, CDC Director-General Steve Kuo (郭旭崧) said yesterday.

He said most of the cases — 225 — were people aged between 18 and 39 living in Taichung or northern Taiwan, with 33.8 percent in New Taipei City, 28 percent in Taipei, 12.3 percent in Taichung and 9.1 percent in Taoyuan.

Half of those people were HIV positive, he said.

“The higher number of cases reported this year might be associated with the HIV-infected patients and their sexual behaviors, or associated with poor food hygiene,” Kuo said.

The CDC started a project in January that provides people born before 1971 who do not have the hepatitis A antibody, but have had close contact with someone who is infected, with a free hepatitis A vaccine shot at local health bureaus, while they could get a self-paid second shot six months afterward.

The CDC said it would work to expand eligibility for the free vaccine to include people born after 1977 who have been diagnosed with HIV, syphilis or gonorrhea, to receive the first shot for free, with the plan scheduled to start by the end of this year.

Kuo urged people to keep good food hygiene and to avoid unsafe sex or multiple sex partners.

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